St. John’s basketball can establish itself as true tournament contender

St. John's basketball head coach Mike Anderson (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball head coach Mike Anderson (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images) /

The St. John’s basketball program can cement itself as a true NCAA Tournament contender. 

A victory over the No. 3 Villanova Wildcats (11-2, 6-1 Big East) was exactly what the St. John’s basketball team needed to catapult itself into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Many experts have the Red Storm (12-7, 6-6 Big East) just on the outside looking in of the Big Dance while only a select few, like CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm, have the Johnnies in the Field of 68 if the season ended today.

However, Mike Anderson’s team can truly establish themselves as a contender for an at-large bid with victories in its next two games, both on the road against Providence (9-9, 5-7 Big East) and Butler (5-10, 4-8 Big East).

St. John’s has yet to play the Friars this season and Ed Cooley’s team has talent but cannot find enough consistency to win games.

The Red Storm started to turn its season around with a win over Butler in Queens back on January 12.

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Two victories move the needle a tremendous amount for St. John’s.

It would create a seven game winning streak.

NCAA Tournament teams win these types of games.

For a team that never lost sight of one of its goals at the beginning of the season, it knows it cannot let its foot off the gas pedal now.

“We came into the season thinking that we would be an NCAA Tournament team…it gives us the extra push to know it’s around the corner and we’re a legit contender,” sophomore star Julian Champagnie said after the team’s 70-59 victory over Villanova.

St. John’s is in sixth place in the Big East Conference regular season standings, one game back of the Seton Hall Pirates for fifth place.

Extended St. John’s basketball run could bring seeding conversation

Could the Johnnies’ winning streak eventually blossom to nine?

Well, with already five wins straight St. John’s returns to Queens to host Xavier (11-2, 4-2 Big East) and DePaul (3-7, 1-7 Big East) following its brief two game road trip.

Winnable games? Absolutely.

If the Red Storm take care of business ahead of its next matchup against the Wildcats on February 23 it would be playing for seeding in its final games before Selection Sunday.

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When has a St. John’s team been able to say that?

Nonetheless, the Johnnies will make the trip up to Providence, Rhode Island to face a desperate Friars team who is watching its postseason hopes fade quickly.

Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00pm EST (Fox Sports 1) inside Alumni Hall.